Violence in America

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I begin with two responses about the violence in Charlottesville, Va. I believe these two men are basically expressing very similar ideas; at the same time, both their voices are definitive and clear! What happened has no place in our country. We, as a nation, are bigger and better than the extreme manifestations of hate demonstrated in Charlottesville. Following these observations, I offer you a 5-minute youtube on Race. It concerns a brief overview of the historical development and social construction of race.

The angry and violent mob which gathered in Virginia, by word and deed, contradicted our national creed and code of civil conduct. As a nation in the past century we led the struggle against the pagan ideas of Nazism. Those who seek to resurrect a new form of Nazism and extreme nationalism — those who denigrate African Americans, who preach and practice anti-Semitism, who disparage Muslims, those who threaten and seek to banish immigrants in our land — all these voices dishonor the basic convictions of the American political and constitutional traditions. They must be opposed in word and deed.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, 9/3/17

I think what we’re really seeing, though, Sister Amy, is the American empire in decay, with the rule of big money, with massive militarism, facilitated by the scapegoating of the most vulnerable, of immigrants, Muslims, Jews, Arabs, gay, lesbians, trans and bisexuals, and black folk. The white supremacy was so intense. I’ve never seen that kind of hatred in my life.
Cornel West interviewed by Amy Goodman on TV -Democracy Now…

What follows is, I believe, one of the best descriptions of the development of white systemic racism. We need to not just read it but study it, pray with it, ponder our participation either in its development or our acquiescence to and with it.  What can we do differently? In family life, neighborhoods, the public work place, our churches, synagogues or mosques?  How can changes in policies and legislation make a difference?

It seems to me one activity that is paramount is for all of us to keep talking with one another in the midst of differences.  Again, it seems to me most of us want to be persons and a country that comes ever closer to our values and ideals.  SHALOM. …

White Racism in the United States –

A Schematic Presentation of its Components

A group of people come together to form a SOCIETY in order to receive benefits; i.e. education, police protection, good housing, medical care, etc.

The society needs to establish INSTITUTIONS in order to distribute and deliver the benefits, i.e. universities, schools, hospitals, corporations, unions, and government, etc.

The POWER in the society usually establishes its rules, and policies based on the values and assumptions that are being extolled by the members of the society – i.e. value that beauty is based on white standards, consequence of many years (and still today, blacks and 3rd world people were not recognized or rewarded for being themselves) Assumption – i.e. Blacks can only succeed in athletics or entertainment field, therefore, not necessary to see that they are represented in other occupational and professional areas of our culture. Blacks are thought of as being manual, whites as being cerebral.

In the late 60’s with the riots in the cities and the civil rights struggle, the POWER in the society decided it was time to open-up the closed society to people other than whites, and began to distribute BENEFITS to blacks in the form of more jobs and better educational opportunities. Changes also occurred in some INSTITUTIONS and in the LAW in order to accommodate blacks.

These attacks or changes in two of the four societal components were a step in the right direction. However, there was no movement to open-up the components of POWER, VALUES, and ASSUMPTIONS. Blacks and other minorities began and are still demanding an active role in the power structures of this country as well as in the operating values and assumptions which exist to direct policies, procedures, and attitudes in this country.

So, we can see that as the diagram of society stands now it is mainly a white society- the POWER is mainly white, the BENEFITS are disproportionately doled out in favor of whites, and the VALUES and ASSUMPTIONS that influence the power are mainly taken from the values of white America.

The goal or vision is to have a white and black and red and brown and yellow and male and female society in which all participate and are proportionately rewarded for their efforts and contributions to the society.

The vision is PLURALISM in color and gender, in all aspects of the societal components.

The concept of blacks IN white society is not sufficient, it is actually racist. The language here is important. We must strive for a black AND white society, and the difference in the connecting between black and white is crucial. The first connection “in white society” implies integration – a very racist concept. The second connotation of “and” implies pluralism and collaboration.

A final word about the diagram and its components is that it is a self-perpetuating process. The circle needs to be broken at any point and the status quo challenged and interrupted if real and meaningful social change is to occur.

 Harley Cook, Director, Toward an Open Society, a program of the Community Renewal Society, Chicago, Illinois

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